The wreckage of the Titan submarine has what are thought to be human remains, the US Coast Guard said on June 28.
Now, the remains will be taken on a ship to a port in the United States, where they will be tested and looked at.
But what happens to people who die at sea? How long does it take for a dead person in water to break down?
What happens to dead bodies that end up at sea?
In cold water, the action of bacteria that makes people gassy may be slowed down so much that the body stays on the seafloor.
After about a week in the sea, a person’s skin will soak up water and start to peel away from the tissues underneath. This lets fish, crabs, and sea lice eat the discarded meat.
Cold water also makes it easier for a soapy, wax-like material called adipocere to form.
Adipocere is made from the body’s fat, which helps keep it from breaking down.
Bodies have been pulled out of water below 7°C almost totally whole after a few weeks, and recognizable skeletons have been found after as long as five years.
Tropical waters like the Arabian Sea change the way a body breaks down. This means that a body with weight will usually float to the surface after three or four days, where sea birds and waves can pick at it.
Putrefaction is the process of a person going bad. After two weeks, scavengers will be able to pick apart the body, and any bones that are left will sink to the seabed.
If the bones were once on the bottom, silt from the water may slowly cover them up. They can also break down more slowly over months or years, based on how acidic the water is.
How long does it take for a dead person in water to break down?
When a body is submerged in water, it tends to slow down the rate at which it breaks down, as long as there aren’t any major wildlife factors nearby, like animals that eat it or certain bacteria that eat it.
Because seas and oceans tend to lower the temperature of a person’s body, bacterial growth slows down. This makes the process of decay take longer.
But once a person is out of the water, it can break down more quickly than if it were still in the water.
When a body is in warm, shallow water, it breaks down quickly, so it could come to the surface in as little as two or three days.
But because cold water slows down decay, people who drown in lakes that are 30 meters deep or more may never come back up again because the weight of the water keeps their bodies from rising.